Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gunnison Homes -- The New Miracle

I've written about Gunnison Homes before in this blog. See:   Running across a newspaper article while I was doing research gives me an excuse to post up a bit more information. 

Gunnison Magic Homes was the first really successful pre-fab housing firm in the United States. By 1940, this Indianapolis Star article claims that it was the "nation's largest home builder."  In the pre-World War II era that may have been true. It's safe to say that the company sold thousands of homes over the course of its history.

From his factory, which still stands in New Albany, Indiana, Foster Gunnison produced pre-fab homes built with insulated plywood panels in an assembly-line system. Forbes called him the "Henry Ford of housing."  Raw materials arrived at the front door, the walls, ceiling and floors were factory finished, doors hung and "windows installed, washed and screened" as the panels moved along the conveyor belts and out the rear door onto trucks headed all across the nation.

This September 29, 1940, article introduced a new line of Gunnison Homes, the Miracle Home.   Demonstration homes were already built by this time in Indianapolis, South Bend and Jeffersonville, Indiana.  Unlike the Deluxe Home, which came in nine standard sizes ranging from four to seven rooms and retailing from $4,000 to $8,500, these new Miracle Homes were all four rooms. They could be installed with or without a basement and were sold on installment plans, approved for FHA loans, for $360 down and $25.60 monthly payments, including insurance and property taxes.

Indianapolis builder, Robert L. Mason was the local rep for the Miracle Homes.  It's hard to know how many of these little Miracles were built in the city, but the demonstration home shown in the picture at the bottom of the article and located in the 3500 block of North Keystone Avenue, still stands as you can see in this google maps pic. I wonder if its owners know the history of their house?